A lot of people were criticizing Corey Pavin for "pushing" Tiger Woods into the eighth position in the singles round of the Ryder Cup. But, it actually made a lot of sense and not just because Tiger has been struggling.
Pavin may have lost some confidence in the Big Cat but he wasn't really giving up much by having Stricker, Cink and Furyk going off in spots normally reserved for the likes of Tiger and the "Pointless" Mickelson, who ended up in the 10th spot.
Pavin may have figured that should the Americans actually start winning or halving a few matches, then Tiger and Mick would be in great spots to earn more points against lesser players. If he was really gutty (and prescient), he would have put one of those two (1-2 in the world) guys in the last spot.
That is what Monty did.
I mean, he put conceivably the hottest and coolest (headed) player in Graeme McDowell in the final spot against Hunter Mahan, a tough competitor himself who drives it long and has been in the heat of battle in some major PGA tourneys.
What possessed Monty to go against the so-called grain and put one of his best players at the end? Maybe he figured the Cup would be won by then and he wanted to be Britishly magnanimous and let some other guys get the glory. Maybe he knew that the Cup could come down to the last game and unlike Pavin's detractors, he thought it might be sound to put a good player in the last spot...just in case.
McDowell proved again and again that he is a champion, the same guy who won the U.S. Open on unfriendly American soil. Now he was the guy you had to beat to retain the Cup and win in Europe for the first time in four decades.
So Monty, that wily Brit with the Mrs. Doubtfire demeanor, for some incredibly strange reason known only to him, puts McDowell in the rear. All McDowell had done was win point after point with great putting, straight drives and iron shots landing within a couple of feet of the hole so his shaky partner Rory McIlroy could just tap in his putts.
Along side Lee Westwood, McDowell led the Euros with a steely eye and a tough Irish guy strut. His putt on 16 against Mahan, which dropped in on the very last roll, was one of the best shots in Ryder Cup history for its sheer purity and timing.
McDowell said he was never more nervous but sure didn't show it.
And, Monty, who Americans love to hate, proved his coaching mettle with another in a series of moves that earned him more than a bit of respect.
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